France Just Made It Illegal for Kids to Ride Without a Helmet
Riders under 12 will be required to wear a helmet according to a new law that came into affect March 22—and the decision spawned plenty of support and opposition
BY MOLLY HURFORD
MARCH 23, 2017
The French helmet law, passed last year but newly in effect, has been met with mixed reception from cycling advocates.
Emmanuel Barbe, the interdepartmental delegate for road safety and traffic at France’s Ministry of the Interior, believes that this new law will increase helmet-wearing for adults in the process, French paper Le Parisien reports. “If a parent does not [wear a helmet], the child will ask, ‘Why do not you wear a helmet?’ We want to pass the message through the voices of children,” he told reporters.
Supporters of the law believe that it will help decrease cyclist fatalities, which increased by seven percent in France in 2016 (159 deaths, relative to 149 in 2015).
Detractors also note that a mandatory helmet law makes using bike shareless convenient, which discourages people from riding regularly; in Paris alone, that affects 1,800 bike share stations and 23,600 bikes. Those opposed to the law also say that it avoids targeting the real safety issues cyclists face: a need for better bike infrastructure, and more youth education about cycling safety outside of simply strapping on a helmet.